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Notes from the Essay “ONE LANGAUGE OR MANY

LANGAUAGES” in Philosophy and Education BY

MRINAL MIRI (2014) New Delhi: Oxford University
1. Language is not something I invent, nor it can be
invented by anybody, for you can invent language
only if you already have language. (p.76)

2. 1 I do not invent language - I get inducted into

language by the particular –wielding community into
which I am born. (78)

2. 1. 1 Being part of human community is part of a

culture. (78)

2.1.2 Speaking a language shows how we follow

linguistic rules/ grammar unconsciously.

2.1.3 Rules of meaning are embedded in the actual

practices of language.

2.1.4 Practices shows, how we use language in

everyday life. Gesture, expressions, etc are
related to the use. ‘One learns how to do
things with words.’ – von Wright.

2.1.5 Linguistic activities are value centric. Values

are part of the culture. (79)
2.1.6 Association with community and values
unfolds emotional and ethical engagements
of various kinds. (80)

2.1.7 “For one to be at home in one’s language is

for one to be open to the emotional and
ethical subtleties of one’s culture; to be
inventive in one’s use of language is to
explore new possibilities of the life of the
emotions in that particular form of life: the
enchantment, enrichment, and the ups and
downs of this life.” (p.81) (For instance, a
first language, Marathi speaking child would
find comfortable while being with a
community of people who speak Marathi.
Language is the binding factor because it
through language literature, values, rites
and rituals, etc, share. Human linguistic
engagements exhibit how members of a
community share their emotion among one
another. Their different ways of sharing
knowledge, but language is essential for
making sharing per se possible.)
2.1.8 “One’s language and one’s culture are
therefore, bound up in a web of intricate
internal relationships. But the contingencies
of human life are such that webs of
meanings constituting different languages
and culture do not, for the most part, stand
apart; they interpenetrate and intermingle,
particularly in the case of neighbouring
cultures and languages; also frequently in
the content of political and cultural
subjugation of a subject culture or cultures
by a dominant culture, as in the case of
English in India and many other parts of the
world.” (p.82) (The interpenetration between
culture and language unfolds the intrinsic
relationship between them. For instance,
Japanese culture and British culture are
unique; their uniqueness is grounded in not
only their way of living but also their way of
sharing or communicating among
themselves. A particular linguistic
community represents a particular culture.
There could be linguistic conflicts among
different community members because of
their linguistic hegemony; for instance, a
native British English speaker might show
supremacy over a non-native English
speaker whose mother-tongue is Hindi, Urdu
or Sinhalese. Since English is largely
spoken in the world they still have edge over
other language.)

2.1.9 Diversity of human kind – marked by

linguistic diversity – is the most magical fact
about humanity.

2. 1. 9. 1. Magical, first because there is no causal

explanation of the genesis of a human language. ‘Human linguistic behaviour is unique.’ Causal reduction of human language is
not possible Ever new things can be said in a language,
and, therefore, the world is embedded in
the language can acquire ever new hues.
(83-84) ... there are new views, insights into the
world of a particular language, as there
are new linguistic diversity, is thus an
inexplicably fantastic fact about humanity.

2.2.1 There is oneness of human kind due to the

fact that humans are language wielding
creatures. This means that the idea of
understanding is embedded in the idea of
language pervasively present in all
humans – understanding not just
meanings of individuals words, but
everything that can be the bearer of
meanings – actions, events, relationship,
oneself, others, narrative of different
kinds, objects in the natural world, objects
and events of the past, of present and
future, so on. (84)
2.2.2 Possibility of understanding also involves
the possibility of misunderstanding
2.2.3 Capacity to understand includes the
capacity to understand other languages,
other cultures, other ways of being
human. (p.85)
2.3.1 Language cannot be put on a scale of superiority
and inferiority. Whatever can be said in language can be
said with clarity. (p.85)
2.3.2 Superior language aims at achieving adequacy,
clarity, etc. However, superiority/ inferiority also implies
cultural domination

3.1. Role of mother tongue education and the

multilingual and multicultural environment – in
primary/ elementary education.
3.2 Child develops a sense of identity from the sense of
belonging to a linguistic community where he/she
attains the capacity to articulate expression.
3.3 The child’s first formal school is frequently a
battleground between this sense of confidence (therefore,
self-confidence) in its family home and the larger home of
the community and its fear of strangers of the school
3.4. ...elimination of child’s mother tongue in its formal
proceedings, the child’s confidence in its own delicate
grounding in the life of the community is more than
likely to come under very serious threat. The more alien
the language of the school is, the more powerful will be
this threat. (87-88)
3.5 Human linguistic belongingness it shows how one
inhabits as human being in the world of language and
meaning. It provides him with groundings of an ethical
life. (88) ‘So, every child when they arrive at school have
sense of identity and self-assurance which they acquire
from their cultural background and open to further
3.6 Besides the difference between elimination of Child’s
cultural background and pedagogic transaction and its
rejection is never very clear; but in either event, linguistic
and cultural autonomy requires that as vital as human
practice as education has room for the recognition of
such autonomy. There can thus be a fairly strong
argument in support of the claim for a significant place
for a the child’s mother tongue or first language in at
least the initial years of its education. (89)

3. Use of various native languages (natural language),

technical languages, (computational languages),
jargons (special terms and vocabularies), etc. (p.77)

4. Language used for acquiring knowledge, including

the ability to articulate expressions, words and